Im­mi­gra­tion is­sue ‘not go­ing away’

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Sarah Roach Sarah.roach@chron.com

WASH­ING­TON — House Democrats and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans may not be able to vote on im­mi­gra­tion re­form bills this month, but that doesn’t mean they’ll soften their stance on Pres­i­dent Trump’s get-tough bor­der poli­cies.

Con­necti­cut U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro on Wed­nes­day stood with 11 of her col­leagues on Capi­tol Hill con­demn­ing Trump’s “zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy,” which sub­jects any­one il­le­gally cross­ing the U.S.-Mex­i­can bor­der to fed­eral pros­e­cu­tion. DeLauro, D-Conn, called the pol­icy “child abuse” be­cause it has sep­a­rated par­ents from chil­dren with lit­tle prospect for re­union.

DeLauro in­tro­duced a res­o­lu­tion in the House last week to roll back the pol­icy, which At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions an­nounced last month.

“This is not an is­sue of left or right – this is an is­sue of right or wrong,” said DeLauro, a veteran House lib­eral Demo­crat.

Demo­cratic and mod­er­ate Repub­li­can House mem­bers had been push­ing to gar­ner 218 sig­na­tures for a vote on four bills ad­dress­ing the Obama-era De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Arrivals pro­gram — DACA. But the law­mak­ers found them­selves two sig­na­tures shy of meet­ing the thresh­old and the ef­fort col­lapsed for now.

House Repub­li­cans in­stead will vote next week on two im­mi­gra­tion bills.

One, which House Speaker

Paul Ryan’s office an­nounced Tues­day night, was drafted by con­ser­va­tive House lead­ers and Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Good­latte, R-Va. It par­al­lels Trump’s call for a bor­der wall and beefed-up en­force­ment. A sec­ond bill would re­flect a more mod­er­ate ap­proach, but its ex­act con­tents re­main un­set­tled.

It is un­clear whether ei­ther bill could com­mand a ma­jor­ity in the House, re­gard­less of party.

Democrats and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans could re­launch their “dis­charge pe­ti­tion” and ac­quire the re­quired num­ber of sig­na­tures, but their DACA bills wouldn’t hit the House floor un­til late July.

DeLauro said she and her col­leagues “have to look at it and see what’s com­ing up” be­fore de­cid­ing which way to go.

“I think peo­ple will take a look at it and see if it meets any of their cri­te­ria for go­ing for­ward, and I will do the same,” she said.

DeLauro and sev­eral other law­mak­ers booked trips to visit the ar­eas along the bor­der in Texas and south­ern Cal­i­for­nia within the next week to scope out the en­force­ment of im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, she added.

“This is not go­ing away,” she said in an interview. “This has got to be a na­tional out­cry.”

Fel­low Con­necti­cut U.S. Rep. El­iz­a­beth Esty echoed DeLauro’s call for re­formed im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies, say­ing the govern­ment has a “hu­man­i­tar­ian duty” to for­eign fam­i­lies seek­ing asy­lum.

She said law­mak­ers should work to­gether on an im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill that cre­ates a path­way for ci­ti­zen­ship for “those who want to work hard and do the right thing.”

“My heart breaks at the thought of these chil­dren wak­ing up each morn­ing not know­ing when they will be with their par­ents again,” Esty said.

Toya Sarno Jor­dan / Getty Im­ages

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., speaks dur­ing a news con­fer­ence on im­mi­gra­tion to con­demn the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “zero tol­er­ance” im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, out­side the Capi­tol Wed­nes­day in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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